Maverick doctor Jacques Mabit is attempting to fight one of the modern world’s greatest demons by using one of the ancient world’s oldest traditions. Disillusioned with modern medicine’s approach to treating cocaine addiction, Mabit turned to ancient traditions in an attempt to bring a spiritual dimension to the fight against the drug.
Mabit is hardly uninformed about current medical treatments, having been involved in their use himself. “The idea was the result of my experience as a medical doctor, when I saw how limited traditional treatments were…I met spiritual healers – Shamans – and realised they had resources unknown in the West.”
He was especially intrigued by the ritual use by South American shamans of the sacred entheogenic brew ayahuasca, which creates altered states of consciousness and visionary experiences, but which Mabit says is non-addictive. The visions allow users to engage with the underlying causes of their drug addiction on a personal, spiritual level.
To this end, he founded ‘Takiwasi’, which translates as “the chanting house.” The name has its basis in the chants sung by shamans – called Ikaros – which are meant to guide the individual through the visionary experience. Takiwasi boasts a spectacular success rate, with 70% of those who finish the 9-month treatment remaining cocaine free.
For Mabit, the success of entheogens such as ayahuasca and iboga where modern medicine has failed results from a simple problem. “It shows the basic dysfunctionality of Western culture: the absence of a spiritual dimension…this is a culture that has destroyed the meaning of the sacred, and there is a tendency to control all aspects of society, without allowing room for freedom and creativity.”